Reflecting on Compassion

I’m going to spend my reflection talking about an individual I had met when I first started working at my public library, Martin County Library System in Florida. Everyone referred to him as Cortland or Doc. People called him Doc because he served 2 years in Vietnam has a medic and surgical assistant. He was an older individual around his 60’s, very slender, tanned, came to the library every day to research Egyptian archaeology and he was homeless…….by choice.

I never spoke with Cortland the first year I worked at the library, only observed him from afar. He was usually around the reference desk asking for assistance from our reference librarian, Richard. I’ll be honest, everyone thought he was a little weird, as he did talk to himself often. Many of my co-workers were glad that he always went to Richard for help and not them. However, one day while I was covering the desk with Richard, I had my first interaction with Cortland. He was approaching the reference desk and Richard knew what he was coming up to him for. It was 2009 and March Madness had officially started and Cortland would come in his usual time and would have Richard get him on one of our public computer and pull up stats for him to review. He apparently was a basketball enthusiast…….and so was I. So, as he was approaching the desk I offered to get Cortland a computer and pull up stats because Richard already had his hands tied with other patrons. I started some small talk with Cortland, who I don’t think was too pleased with me helping him. I started mentioning some players who I knew were potential draft picks for the NBA and even showed Cortland some live games to watch and some other visual highlights, instead of the same stats he was looking at everyday……………. the rest is history. We became good friends. As soon as he would come into the library, he would stop by the circulation desk, where I was usually stationed and we would catch up for 15 minutes about different players and teams. He even started coming in with a basketball. My co-workers were a bit baffled by this relationship we formed and became a little less weirded out by him.

Cortland shared a lot things about himself. How he was once “The Winston Man”, a pro boxer, a model and played college basketball with some very famous players. I didn’t always believe everything he told me. As much as I loved talking to him, I didn’t think he was entirely there, but it didn’t bother me that I thought he was making half of it up…. he was just trying to impress me and I loved our conversations.

Sometime in December, Cortland stopped showing up. This was odd since he would show up every day we were opened. I remember Richard and I checking newspaper obituaries and calling around different hospitals to check of his whereabouts. Two weeks later, Richard found out Cortland had been admitted to the Veterans hospital with a pneumonia. It was a relief to have found him! However, a few days later, Cortland had checked himself out against his doctor’s request. As I mentioned before, Cortland was homeless by choice. Vietnam did some terrible things to our soldiers. I think for Cortland, he had never liked being told how to live so he chose to live his life as free as he could. Two days after he had checked out of the Veterans hospital, Cortland was found dead on a sidewalk. It was Christmas 2010.

I still remember the day I found out he had passed. It brought me to tears. I couldn’t believe he was gone. I had gotten so use to him coming every day, chatting with him about basketball and such and for his presence to be taken away from our library was truly tough.

A couple months after his passing, his daughter and brother from upstate New York came down to Florida to visit our library and to see where Cortland had spent so much of his time. Through Cortland’s daughters Facebook page, I had found out that everything Cortland had told me about being “The Winston Man,” a model, boxer, and college basketball player had in fact been true. I was talking to a legend. A man who had done so much. I was privileged to have known him and still miss him very much till this day.

I chose to share this story for my reflection because Cortland is one of many whose stories belong in the books on our shelves. He was a tale worth telling. Most of all, he was a man who taught me compassion. Some of our patrons might be odd, but boy do they have stories.

“We are the heart of our communities and that only works because the people who run libraries give of themselves. They do it knowing that there will be hard days and disappointment, budget fights, and individuals whom they may not be able to reach. The best librarians make that emotional investment because they believe in the institution and the communities they serve.”

Cortland Thomas Litts Jr. “Doc”

Director’s Brief: Makerspace Expansion

Our library branch currently opened a makerspace, the first within our library system and has gotten a great response from both patrons and staff. Employees from the other branches have shown some interest in opening up their own for their patrons. I felt the need to write my brief on this topic because it is my hope that my library system will go through this expansion.

Although the maker movement has been around for ages with human natures need to invent, design and create, incorporating these types of creative spaces into library systems has only been around in the last several years and each system designs their makerspaces upon the needs and wants of their community.

As the emerging trends in technology continues to grow, makerspaces will become the place to find these current trends and experiment with all the many ways they can be learned. This could include learning animation projects, video editing, music producing and recording, code writing, building 3D objects, and/or creating projects with everyday objects.


Libraries and Makerspaces

This week’s post was inspired after reading Cory Doctorow’s article about Libraries and Makerspaces.

“The problem is that Mr. Blowhard has confused a library with a book depository. Now, those are useful, too, but a library isn’t just (or even necessarily) a place where you go to get books for free.”

The above quote from Cory’s article had me laughing out loud, but also nodding my head in agreement. In a recent post, I highlighted the revolution of reinventing libraries into digital libraries. I remember when e-books first became a thing and hearing so many people make comments about how libraries were soon to be extinct and whether I was worried I would lose my job. I don’t hear those comments anymore, so library systems all over are doing something right. Libraries have become a place where you not only have access to circulating materials and information hubs, but programs, workshops and events are also taking place. If you research your community well enough and provide them with free entertainment they want, they will show up in numbers.

But one of the other super neat things many libraries are investing in are spaces designed to give patrons a place to create cool projects that are catered to all age groups. Idea labs, creation stations, YOUmedia or whatever libraries choose to name these maker outlets, people are buying into it!

We recently at the Morningside Branch of the St Lucie County Library System focused on a program that allowed for tweens to get together for a project where they collaborated on a stop motion animation film that they wrote and created on their own using software and equipment available in our Makerspace. Below are a couple of photos of them working on their project, along with their finished product. They really had a blast working on this project and just recently finished their video, which we premiered at the library for all patrons to see. 🙂





Virtual Reality!

It’s always fascinating to see what will be the next best thing and how will it impact our lives. My library job as a Technical Assistant is my second life. When I’m not at work, I’m still thinking about work. Truth be told, if I didn’t have the opportunity to work for a library, I probably wouldn’t visit it much. I have WiFi at home, enjoy downloading eBooks in the comfort of my living room and can access information through Google. So, after I get off my shift I often think about those who probably share this mentality (those who believe they already have what the library provides) and ponder how we can convince them that they do need libraries and that libraries provide much more……at least we’re always working on it!

The transformation and reinvention of literacy to digital literacy is prevalent in libraries. Libraries are constantly finding ways to adapt to all the fascinating technology we are all immersed into. Kastanis (2015) wrote an exciting article about “What technology will look like in five years,” granted it’s now 3 years, but one of the elements discussed is Virtual Reality (VR). Kastanis predicts that “In 2020, after becoming non-invasive, VR will integrate into many facets of our life, from entertainment and education to work and exploration” (2015). How exciting would it be if public libraries had databases that allowed patrons to immerse themselves into alternate realities to learn new skills, explore places we’ve never been, and even gaming? Troy Lambert (2016) explains in his article, Virtual Reality in the Library: Creating a New Experience, all the wonderful things libraries can benefit in providing VR to patrons that included the likes of storytelling, space exploration, drivers safety education and field trips. Some libraries are already utilizing VR for programs, for example, the Brackett Library, located in Vero Beach, Florida, hosts a Virtual Reality Demo using the HTC Vive for patrons to experience mountain climbing or hanging out on a reef filled with fish. It’s an innovative approach that goes beyond shelves and stacks of books.

On personal experience, I really enjoy VR. A couple of years ago I tried the cardboard VR and used my smartphone to delve into a 360 view of The Shire from Lord of the Rings. I then got a Gear VR powered by Oculus for my Samsung phone and tried various VR apps and experienced a roller coaster ride, something I would never do in real life. Most recently my brother purchased a PS4 with VR and the experience was truly incredible. It just keeps getting better and better! In fact, a new startup company called Magic Leap is working on something called Mixed Reality, although they are quite secretive with the logistics and semantics, the technology is quite breathtaking.

Wired (2016, April 19). The Untold Story of Magic Leap, the World’s Most Secretive Startup [Video File]. Retrieved from

Kastanis, D. (2015). What technology will look like in five years. Retrieved from

Lambert, T. (2016). Virtual reality in the library: Creating a new experience. Retrieved from

Emerging Technology Planning-Your Space


Every community encompasses various forms of talent and skill, but they don’t always have the resources to act on and explore their creative capacity. If a library is a place where people come in to search for information, why can’t it also be a place where they utilize that information to construct ideas?

“Empowerment comes from that daydreaming place….. Introducing ideas, connecting the dots, creating pathways, opening the door to the world is like being an architect of dreams (Smith, 2013). So give them the space, give them resources and watch your community bloom and bring to life those visions.

The enthusiasm for Maker Spaces is shared among many public libraries and librarians. I see it playing a huge role in the transformation of community libraries, especially those communities that want to be inspired, lifted and given an outlet to think and then do.

Community Description & Goals

          Your Space is designed for all of its community members at the Lewis library part of the St Lucie County Library System. Its objective is to encourage its entire community to utilize software and equipment provided to them with their free library card to turn their vision into reality. Regardless of age and expertise, the Your Space station is designed for independent and/or collaborative projects and will provide its community with opportunities to partake in workshops aimed to give them a boost, remove barriers, and become their own artists, engineers, and producers. Your Space will include 6 computers, one that will be associated with a 3D printer. 5 computers will include software for video/photo editing, stop motion animation, music producing/editing, midi controllers, graphic novel design and coding software. Space will also be designated for crafts, props and circuit boards with sensors.

Goal: Promote creativity and share ideas.

Goal: Provide support and training to staff and patrons.

Goal: Develop a community maker mentality.

Goal: Increase usage of the Your Space station through outreach with schools and organizations.

Action Brief Statement

Convince the entire community that by opening up their imaginative and inventive minds they will discover and create ideas with various tools which will turn thoughts into reality because each member, patron, person has what it takes to grow.


Hundreds of public libraries have already invested in maker spaces and have seen wonderful outcomes. Some of the challenges libraries will face when forming their maker spaces include, finding adequate space, funding to purchase software and equipment, and getting patrons to come back to reuse these creative outlets.

Success is visible, for example, the Broward County Library System opened up their Creation Station Lab in 2014 and according to Stephen Grubb, has since been averaging 1,200 visitors monthly.

The Teen Center Creative Lab is another great example. Situated at the Richland Library in South Carolina, their lab has seen an increase in teen participation by focusing on new technologies and opportunities that they are unable to come across elsewhere.

At the St. Louis Public Library in Montana, their digital maker space, Creative Experience, is geared towards people of all ages to create photos, videos, music, games and coding and features several audio software to record and publish their music. It is also allowed them to hold a monthly open mic night that patrons look forward to share their talents.

 [Infographic by Karen Parker]


Your Space at the Lewis Library is determined to strengthen maker mentality to all, with the opportunity to inspire you with creator tools in order to discover your artistic talent and make them a reality.

Guidelines & Policies

  • Your Space can welcome individuals’ or groups of up to 15 people.
  • You must be a card holder and can have no more than $10 in fines on your library account to use the facility.
  • Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by an adult unless they are part of a library program/workshop.
  • Equipment must remain in the room unless otherwise noted from library staff.
  • Patrons are encouraged to bring in external devices to save any work created using one of the software’s made available on any one of the computer stations.
  • All patrons must adhere to all library policies and patron code of conduct.

 Library Director, Branch Manager, and Technical Services will be involved in policy making and guidelines for the Your Space station.


Funding and expenditures to purchase computers, 3D printer, software and other equipment will rely on library budget and grants. To remain budget savvy, one of the several conference rooms will be considered for conversion for the maker space.

Grants to apply for will include the following:

  • Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant for Libraries – Innovation Grant
  • The Awesome Innovation in Libraries Chapter
  • TechSoup

Action Steps & Timeline

The Branch Manager will review the plan first for any recommendations before being proposed to the Library Director. Upon approval, Technical Services will observe logistics and suggest software and hardware concerns. In the event of any budget concerns, the purchase of a 3D printer will be pushed back until resources become available.

After purchase off all software and equipment, Digital Specialist and Technical Assistant will assume responsibility of the Your Space station and will take part in training through free webinars, video tutorials and hands-on experience. Each staff member of the branch will then be offered workshops by the two designated employees running the stations to learn about the features and specs offered.

Children, teen and adult programming and workshops will be designed and implement once the maker space goes live.

Completion of the plan will require a year of preparation and after a trial year, a three year plan will be initiated to allow the 5 other branches of the Library System to open up their own maker spaces as well.


The current Digital Specialist and Technical Assistant will require 15 hours a week set aside for program planning and workshops. Each month will feature a new software workshop for patrons with 2 different sessions to attend in the evening. Two new programs for children and teens will utilize the room for basic robotics and stop motion animation and will meet once a month for 5 consecutive months.


Training for all of the devices, software and hardware will take part through a 3 month period with the help of the Technical Services department, Webinars, On-site training at the local college and hands-on learning and practice. The Digital Specialist and Technical Assistant will require rigorous training and then offer basic training for the other staff members. Training of the staff members will be done in 3 different groups with 3 different sessions before opening hours.

Promotion & Marketing

Brochures, Social Networking sites, guest appearance by Branch Manager and Digital Specialist at St Lucie County local TV station and word of mouth will be used to promote Your Space. Outreach will also be considered with local schools and organizations like the Boys and Girls club, St Lucie County Reading Council and The Indian River Lagoon festival.

High school students looking for volunteer hours will be given the opportunity to create promotional videos and tutorials using Your Space and have their projects posted on social media sites like Facebook.


Statistics will be generated ever month through computer sign-ins and patron attendance to workshops and library programs. Feedback will be encouraged that could include short surveys designed to answer questions that revolve around user experience and room for improvement.

In my experience, patrons have always offered insights on what it is they want to learn and what they would love for their library to offer and it is these recommendations that should not be taken for granted. The best thing we can do for our community is to listen.



Smith, P. (2013). Architects of dreams Pam Sandlian Smith on the power of childrens librarians. School Library Journal.

Urban Libraries Council (2014). Makerspaces in Libraries.

Parker, K. (2016). Makerspace in Public Libraries.

ALA Grants (2017). American Library Association.

Library Works (2017).–funding

St. Lucie County Reading Council

Indian River Lagoon Science Festival


The Inventing Environment

Not too long ago, I was asked by a fellow co-worker if I would be interested in helping plan and implement a beginner’s robotic program for kids. I love anything tech and although I’ve never done any type of library programs prior to being asked, I knew I had to say yes. Best career decision I ever made! It resulted into 2 different programs: one program for 6 to 9 year old’s and the second program for 10 to 16 years old’s. We got to build robotic cars, circuits with Arduino Uno’s and we’re currently filming a stop motion animation movie.

However, one of my favorite things to have introduced to the kids is an invention kit called Makey Makey, which allows you to use everyday items and turn them into keys, buttons and/or controllers using computer codes that can be made through Scratch. Items like playdough, coins, pencil lead, aluminum foil, fruits and vegetables can be used to make a game controller to play Super Mario Bros, build a life-size Operation board game or build a handmade guitar.

The overlapping space discussed by Jakob Guillois Laerkes (inspiration, learning, meeting and performative) resonated with what my co-worker and I was trying to influence in our programming. Although these concepts were intended for Laerkes and his staff to redesign their library space, we used these concepts to redesign and challenge our programs.

Below is one of the guitars we built from scratch and then used the Scratch program to write a code for the guitar to play actual notes!

Participatory Culture

Jenkins makes an excellent point about how we “need to change our practices to reflect the new ways that young people are engaging with the world around them” (2006). This statement made in 2006 is even more pertinent and relevant in todays web world. A culture in which we the consumer also get to play the role of contributor. “According to a 2005 study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life project, more than one-half of all American teens–and 57 percent of teens who use the Internet–could be considered media creators” (Jenkins, 2006). This participatory culture craze is seen all over YouTube, Instagram, Snap Chat, Vine, memes, GIFs and various blogs . Anyone with a unique talent can start a channel on YouTube or upload short silly videos on Vine or post pictures on Instagram and have thousands to millions of followers and make a name for themselves.

Henry Jenkins defines Participatory Culture through the following 5 concepts:

  1. With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement
  2. With strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others
  3. With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices
  4. Where members believe that their contributions matter
  5. Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).

James Charles is a wonderful example. A 17 year old internet personality and now Cover Girl model, first male Cover Girl model. He has hundreds of thousands of followers on YouTube and Instagram where he showcases how to apply make-up. An amazing artist, internet sensation and now a spokesperson for a large make-up retailer. It’s pretty impressive.

Another great example are teens who run Young Adult book blogs. Many are given free YA books by publishers in return for an honest review of the book on their blog sites or even posting reviews on popular sites like Amazon.

So if these talented teens can put their names out there using the web and collaborate with big name companies, how can we in the library world benefit using the web to reach our communities?

Social Media is so prevalent in todays society, it would be a missed opportunity not to use them to promote library services in a creative way, like using Instagram to unleash an exciting new book display for the month or post a Twitter countdown to an author meet and greet or a series of Snap Chat videos for how-to-use library databases.

Makerspaces is another excellent outlet to promote participatory culture within our libraries. For instance, providing music editing software that allows patrons to bring in their instruments and jam out, record and edit their music and then upload to share what they’ve created……at no cost to them! It’s something my public library is trying to promote now and is a work in progress.

Libraries have come a long way since the beginning of their time and it is because libraries embrace change and continue to evolve that it remains significant to their communities. In the article, Making Libraries Visible on the Web, Ted Fons points out the evolvement of library catalogs thanks to the Web. As noted by Cataloging Historian, Dorothy May Norris, libraries started off with “just a bare list of books” on a wall (Fons, 2016). Now we have an online catalog that can locate a book, it’s location, whether or not it’s available for check-out and an option to place a book on hold. It would be a disservice to our patrons if we didn’t incorporate the Web somehow to make our library services more accessible. In the library systems that I’ve worked for, we rely on input from our patrons. Asking them what it is they want from their library systems and how can we make their experience beneficial, enjoyable, easier and make them permanent users.

Context Book Review!!

I have always identified as an introvert, even before I was introduced to the word itself. I have always been told by others that I am too quiet, shy, reserved and serious. I don’t deny any of it and as a youngster I often tried to change myself to resemble behaviors that were opposite of mine. It was a struggle because I didn’t know how to fit in; however, there is another side to me as well. I can be more outgoing, social and at times loud, but only a few people know that side. Only those I am truly comfortable with have had the pleasure or…..displeasure. I like to think I have a fascinating imagination. I remind myself sometimes of Walter Mitty and have an easy time zoning out but a difficult time coming back to reality. It can be frustrating because I really like the person I see myself playing out in my mind but struggle bringing that person to life in front of others.

Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking (2012) is a book that well defines the behaviors of both introverts and extroverts and how we are better off in this world by having both. “The most effective teams are composed of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts…so are many leadership structures” (Cain, 2012, p.93). The balance is necessary because the two need one another to get things done. Throughout the entire book we hear stories of both introverts and extroverts, from well-known businessmen, activists, and authors. We hear stories about how Rosa Parks, Tony Robbins, Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Wozniak etc. all have either been introverts or extroverts and what life was like for them. We also hear stories by others that the author has met along the way. 

The book is broken into 4 parts and each one is filled with examples of how introverts go about their business and extroverts go about theirs. Part II was the most interesting part of the book. Susan Cain gets a little more personal and shares what it’s like to be an introvert and then goes on to scientifically explain why we humans either identify as one or the other. It was interesting to learn that a lot of our behaviors are hereditary. But the book also explains that there are different levels of introverts. We all don’t have the exact same traits. Some are shyer than others. Some introverts can be quite social but will need downtime to recharge.

So how can librarians bring library balance to what was once a quiet place? Libraries have definitely evolved and many are embracing a livelier atmosphere. Using my own public library as an example, we have several programs for all age groups and many of which are interactive. We are not looking to scare away those who want a quiet place to come read. We have our quiet areas in place but we also have designated areas for play. If we targeted only one group then our library would be irrelevant. This balance is also prevalent with those we work with. Many of the programming I do is done with an extroverted co-worker. I was hesitant at first working with this individual because of his rambunctious personality and my quiet demeanor, but we clicked instantly. He has the ability to bring a little more out of me while I tame his crazy side, just enough to bring enough to our programming. Lucky for us, it works!

Cain, Susan. (2012). Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. New York: Crown Publishers.

[Book Image]. Retrieved October 6, 2016 from

Cain, S. (2012, February). Susan Cain: The power on introverts [Video file]. Retrieved from

Accepting Change….

So after viewing some of the readings and watching this weeks lecture with Professor Stephens, all I can think is, I’ve gone through all of these transformations and still going through them with my library and past libraries I’ve worked for. Change is prevalent nowadays, maybe it’s always been, but I’ve seen co-workers fight tooth and nail either for it or against it. I myself have been on both ends, wanting to accept some and wanting to reject others.

A few years back when I worked for another public library, we had a stable library environment. Circulation desk separated from the reference desk and staff and patrons knowing exactly where to go when needing help. We all seemed content. But then our library director of 10+ years retired and a younger fella was hired to take over the position. I will admit I was excited at first to get fresh ideas from a young individual who had made it to the top so quickly. Change can be really great and keeps your surroundings entertaining. I often ponder about my life, my relationships, my goals and my job and challenge myself to never get bored and find ways to keep things spicy (you know what I mean!) and do things that scare me because the adrenaline afterwards is an amazing feeling of satisfaction. However, the change that was soon to come at this library was difficult for me and for many, both staff and patrons, to handle and process. In all fairness, when I think back, the change was happening at a normal pace yet at the time it didn’t feel that way. Our new director wanting to break down walls, which is something I’m totally for, but we all couldn’t help feel awkward about these changes. The goal was to get rid of the circulation and reference desk, to push patrons to use self-checkouts and to do mobile reference with the newly purchased iPad’s. We would be sent to walk around the stacks with the iPad’s asking patrons if we could assist them in anyway. It honestly felt like cold-calling. No more were we allowed to sit behind a desk. Literally! Our chairs were taken from us. Our computers were turned around facing patrons and we were standing side by side with them when checking out their accounts (paying fines or placing holds) and if a patron wanted to check out materials, it had to be done at the self-checkout. Remember that episode of Seinfeld, the Soup Nazi? That’s how I thought of our new director :/

Listen I’m all for connecting with my patrons, maybe I’m old fashion but it just seemed like the wrong way to do it….at the time. I like sitting side by side with patrons when I’m assisting them with tech issues or how to download a book or showing them how to add an attachment. However, when they come up to the desk to checkout materials, I don’t want to send them to the self-checkout. I’d like to face them, preferably behind a desk (I just need a little space!) and chat with them about whatever.

I left this library system after about a couple of years of dealing with the changes. I couldn’t bear being robotic, and that’s truly the environment I was feeling at the time. The library I work for now has there desks in place, stationed with a chair for staff to sit on to assist patrons, but when I cover the desk, I get up often. I don’t tell patrons where a book is, I show it to them. I walk them over, remove the book off the shelf and hand it to them. Now is this the right way to do it? I don’t know, but it feels right to me. I will say this though, I like the idea of a transparent reference desk as mentioned in this weeks video lecture. I also have been more open to stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things because as mentioned before, it’s a great feeling of satisfaction to accomplish things that scares you a little bit. Evolving is necessary and so is acceptance.


My Name is Rowan and this is my second semester at SJSU!

I currently live on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I’ve been a resident of Florida for a total of 22 years now. However, I’ve also lived overseas in the West Bank of Palestine- my parent’s native country. I attended middle school, high school and a year of college overseas. I had planned on completing my college education overseas, but in September of 2000 the second intifada/uprising started. I had just started my first year of college at Birzeit University and it remains the most difficult school year of my life. Let’s keep it that way! Although it’s a country filled with issues, it’s still beautiful and a place I consider my second home. I finally made a visit this summer after being away for 15 years, so the trip was quite emotional. Here is a photo of Silwad, the town I grew up in.

I started working for public libraries 6 years ago. I began as a library assistant at the Martin County Library System. I did that for 4 years and then moved over to the county next door. For 2 years now, I have been working at the Morningside Branch of the St Lucie County Library as a technical assistant. I get to create, implement and present programs for our library patrons. I was also part of a committee to create our very own MakerSpace titled the Creation Station. It’s become a place for patrons to come in and record music, create animation, build circuits or edit photos and videos.

I do love what I do for a living, but I will admit I get nervous before every class I teach. I’ve always been a shy person and so it is a struggle and a challenge to get through. But every class, program and event I’ve been a part of has been an accomplishment I am proud of.